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VOL. 132 | NO. 139 | Friday, July 14, 2017

Overton Gateway Developers, Neighbors Reach Tentative Compromise

By Patrick Lantrip

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It may have taken the mediation of a Memphis City Council member and two hours of negotiation, but representatives from a local development group and a coalition of concerned Midtown residents were able to reach a tentative compromise on the fate of a massive project at the doorstep of Overton Park.

Known as the Overton Gateway, developers Makowsky Ringel Greenberg first introduced the mixed-use multifamily/commercial project to a group of Lea’s Woods residents at a public meeting in March, where it was met with a frosty reception.

Over the next several months, representatives from MRG tweaked the plan but failed to garner the support of nearby residents. The Land Use Control Board, which makes recommendations to the Memphis City Council about developments, considered a modified plan in June, ultimately voting to recommend the council reject the proposal.

In advance of the July 25 city council meeting, councilman Worth Morgan mediated a negotiation between the two sides in an effort to reach a compromise.

“From what was proposed at land use controls, the height has been reduced and the onsite parking has been increased,” Morgan said. “Those were the two major concerns that I’ve heard from Lea’s Woods and the surrounding neighborhoods.”

According to Morgan, the height of the two main multifamily units on either side of Sam Cooper Boulevard have been reduced from five to three stories and amount of onside parking has been increased by 16 spots. The height reduction decreases the number of units from 195 to 176.

“It increased the supply and lessened the demand,” Morgan said. “I don’t expect there will be 100 percent support, but I think this is a good plan that protects the historic guidelines of other neighborhoods throughout the Midtown area as well as meets the immediate needs of the Lea’s Woods neighborhood.”

According to Lea’s Woods resident and spokesperson Vaughn Dewar, the next step is for the neighborhood stakeholders to hold a vote that would officially provide a wavier to their historic guidelines regarding the height of the two buildings.

“I think that is important so we do not set a precedent that could risk the Landmarks Commission and our historic standards being overridden,” Dewar said. “We don’t want to set that precedent.”

Dewar called the compromise bittersweet, but said it also garnered the backing of other nearby Midtown community leaders in the Evergreen and Vollintine-Evergreen historic districts, who felt there was too much at stake.

“So to alleviate those risks, we had to come up with a compromise,” Dewar said. “I’m optimistic, I’ve talked to our core group at a meeting and they were supportive of the strategy.”

Dewar said that he is still working on the best method to conduct the vote, but wants to have the results in well in advance of the July 25 meeting.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 23 23 1,365
MORTGAGES 21 21 1,068
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 6 6 196
BUILDING PERMITS 117 117 3,173
BANKRUPTCIES 42 42 795
BUSINESS LICENSES 2 2 331
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0